KITS AND PIECES

WITH A FAM­ILY HIS­TORY OF BUILD­ING UNIQUE, ONE-OFF V EH IC LES, JKP UR VIS COULDN’ T RE­SIST THE OP­POR­TU­NITY TO EX­CHANGE HIS PORSCHE 994 FOR THIS STYLISH, SLEEK, LO­CALLY BUILT COUP E

New Zealand Classic Car - - Contents -

JK Purvis hap­pened to be brows­ing Trade Me dur­ing June 2016, when he saw a yel­low car and asked his wife what she thought of it. Her com­ment was, “It looks al­right, but it’s a bit yel­low.” JK was more than im­pressed with it. His daily-drive at the time was the car he had dreamed of own­ing since he was a young boy, a Porsche 944. The prob­lem was, once you own your dream car, what do you buy next? Per­haps the an­swer would be an amaz­ing-look­ing ve­hi­cle that is the only one of its kind in the world.

Through Trade Me, JK of­fered the car’s owner and builder, Peter An­drews, a straight swap: his 944 for the Patero. Ini­tially, Peter was not in­ter­ested, as his rea­son for sell­ing the car was to try to re­duce his own au­to­mo­tive over­head. The Patero did not sell, and it van­ished off Trade Me. Be­liev­ing that he had missed out, JK kept an eye out for other un­usual and in­ter­est­ing cars, but when the Patero ap­peared again a few months later, he re­peated his of­fer. This time, Peter was more in­ter­ested, but was not pre­pared to con­sider it un­til the auc­tion fin­ished. Again the car did not find any buy­ers, so he agreed to the swap.

Strik­ing looks

In Oc­to­ber, JK men­tioned to his wife that he was pop­ping up to Taupo for the week­end and would go up in the Porsche but come back in a car called the ‘Patero’. The fact that JK is telling us this story says a fair bit about the un­der­stand­ing na­ture of his wife, al­beit at the time that she had not twigged that the car JK would come back with was the yel­low one she had seen some months ear­lier. When she did see the car, her only com­ment was, “Se­ri­ously, when it comes time to buy an­other car I am picking it. I am go­ing to feel like a gold­fish in this.”

She need not have wor­ried, be­cause, since then, she has been out in the car many times, and most peo­ple are not even aware she is inside, such are its strik­ing looks — and colour! Even driv­ing it from Taupo to his home in Lower Hutt, JK was sur­prised by the at­ten­tion it at­tracted. Just get­ting petrol is no longer a chore but an event.

Be­spoke cars

An­drews. Peter owns a small com­pany called Con­cept Cars NZ, in Katikati. At the time, the Patero was the 16th car that Peter had built. To say that he has petrol in­stead of blood pump­ing through his veins is a bit of an un­der­state­ment. Not only is it in his blood, but it is also in his DNA. His fa­ther, Phil An­drews, was the cre­ator of New Zealand’s best-known pro­duc­tion ve­hi­cle, the Trekka, and Peter him­self had gone down the same road in the 1980s when he’d tried to put his own car into the New Zealand mar­ket. It was called the ‘Asco Aura’. Sadly, Peter could not get any mo­men­tum go­ing with this project, and pro­duc­tion stopped af­ter only 11 cars had been sold. The Aura has now faded from sight, but, for the few that re­mem­ber, it has now be­come a unique part of New Zealand au­to­mo­tive his­tory. Since then, Peter has mainly fo­cused on be­spoke cars that he can build in a small shed, with­out the need to store jigs and moulds.

The best way to de­scribe the Patero is as a mod­ern in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the Amer­i­can neo­clas­sic car. From start to fin­ish, it took about nine months to build. The chas­sis is from a mod­ern Toy­ota Crown, which pro­vided the JK had swapped his Porsche with the car’s owner, de­signer, and builder, Peter

brakes and power steer­ing. Into the mid­dle of this, af­ter a bit of ham­mer­ing and lot of mut­ter­ing, was in­serted the cen­tral body tub of a 1980s Nis­san EXA. This took care of the doors, T-top roof, and a rea­son­able por­tion of the in­te­rior. Doors are al­ways the hard­est part of any home­built car, which is why most kit cars do not in­clude them. The ad­van­tage of us­ing the EXA body tub was that the doors al­ready fit­ted, and it had the cool T-top, too.

The unique ap­pear­ance of the front of the car was im­por­tant to Peter, as it would set the tone for the fi­nal look, so the right choice of head­lights was quite im­por­tant. Con­se­quently, Peter spent some time just driv­ing around town look­ing at head­lights, be­fore set­tling on those used for the late ’90s Toy­ota Corolla. It was from these that the fi­nal look of the car evolved, from the Bent­ley-type grille to the Ca­maro-like rear end. The rest of the ex­te­rior of the car was done us­ing care­fully shaped ure­thane foam, which was cov­ered in fi­bre­glass and resin to get the fi­nal shape. This was fol­lowed by the lib­eral ap­pli­ca­tion of sev­eral litres of body filler and a lot of el­bow grease to get a smooth fin­ish. More foam and fi­bre­glass were ap­plied to the in­te­rior, ef­fec­tively mask­ing any rem­nants of the EXA from all but the most ea­gle-eyed car spot­ter.

The fi­nal re­sult was the car you see here, which first ap­peared on New Zealand roads in 2005, and it has caused con­fu­sion among car spot­ters ever since.

The key to con­fu­sion

To as­sist the car to per­form as well as it looks, Peter fit­ted a Lexus 4.0-litre quad-cam V8, mounted well back into the fire­wall. If a me­chanic wants to move from the ra­di­a­tor to the front of the en­gine, he al­most has to take a packed lunch, such is the dis­tance be­tween them.

The first thing that any­body who hops into the car no­tices is that there is nowhere to put the key. It is not un­til a but­ton is pressed in the door panel that a por­tion of the cen­tre con­sole rises up, re­veal­ing — along with the ra­dio — the ig­ni­tion and start but­ton. The lit­tle mo­tor that raises the con­sole is quite pow­er­ful and has, on a few oc­ca­sions, proved it­self as an ef­fec­tive key guil­lo­tine. JK has watched in dis­may, af­ter ac­ci­den­tally press­ing the door but­ton, as the cen­tre con­sole re­tracts and chops off the end of his key. In­deed, it’s a good thing that keys for this car are cheap, as JK now has six spares and car­ries a pair of long-nose pli­ers to ex­tract the other half of the key from the lock!

As an aside, name ‘Patero’ was cre­ated from an amal­ga­ma­tion of the ini­tials of Peter, his wife, and his chil­dren’s names. It was a made up word, and it sounded pretty cool — or so he thought.

‘Slip­pery’ or ‘ wily’

Big car com­pa­nies spend a lot of time choos­ing names for their up­com­ing mod­els. This in­cludes check­ing out what a po­ten­tial name could mean in other lan­guages. A clas­sic ex­am­ple of when it goes it wrong is the Chevy Nova, which in Span­ish means ‘Chevy doesn’t go.’ Mazda also got it wrong with its ‘La­puta’, which in Span­ish means ‘the whore’.

JK, be­ing the con­sci­en­tious owner that he is, de­cided to in­ves­ti­gate the name us­ing the in­ter­net and Google. Span­ish, as we have learned, seems to have a way of tak­ing harm­less-sound­ing words and giv­ing them a unique twist. ‘Patero’ ap­peared sec­ond on his search re­sults list, and in Span­ish it means ‘slip­pery’, or ‘wily’. Noth­ing wrong with that name in a lan­guage spo­ken by about 430 mil­lion peo­ple.

Sadly, such was not the case for the name in the sec­ond lan­guage of his own coun­try. As hard as it is to be­lieve, the bunch of let­ters that Peter threw to­gether ap­peared atop Google’s list, with a ref­er­ence to New Zealand’s own Maori dic­tio­nary. I will not ex­plain its mean­ing here, but the ti­tle to this story should give you a clue. Need­less to say, any school­boy be­tween the ages of six and 12 will think it’s an awe­some name. The young Maori boys who live next door to JK share that opin­ion, and have given the car the big thumbs up.

Peter was a bit non­plussed when he found out what the name meant, whereas JK be­lieves that it adds to the colour and le­gend of a sim­ply out­stand­ing car. It is not an or­di­nary ve­hi­cle, so why should it have an or­di­nary name?

JK uses the car as his every­day driver, and it can be seen reg­u­larly com­mut­ing into Welling­ton. He says that, ev­ery time he hops into it, it brings a smile to his face. The rum­ble of a pow­er­ful V8 is one of the few au­to­mo­tive sounds that can­not be topped. The Lexus V8 is prov­ing to be a very re­li­able en­gine — it al­ways starts first time and has more than enough power for any sit­u­a­tion. Fu­ture plans (be­sides giv­ing the car a good tidy-up) may in­clude a sub­tler re­paint — a sug­ges­tion from the wife — and per­haps a five-speed man­ual gear­box. But, for the next year or so, JK will just en­joy driv­ing it.

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